Polo Players Edition

NOV 2011

Polo Players' Edition is the official publication of the U.S. Polo Association. Dedicated to the sport of polo, it features player profiles, game strategy, horse care, playing tips, polo club news and tournament results.

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the pain reflex and helps reduce pain locally and get combination anesthetic the horse's back to relax. The of corticosteroids rapidly reduces sensitivity of these areas and breaks the pain cycle, and the horse becomes very comfortable, very quickly," explains Mitchell. "Mesotherapy is a technique developed in France. We find it very useful for relieving muscle spasms, to complement joint injections of the hocks, stifles or low back or neck. There may still be some spasms and discomfort after the joint injections so we use mesotherapy to reduce these, and horses respond very nicely," he says. If the horse just has muscle soreness and strain, you can do mesotherapy and relieve it. But if he has muscle strain or muscle tension secondary to arthritis in his back, you need to treat the arthritic area at the same time. "I don't discourage chiropractic therapy. I think it can also be very helpful as a management tool, but I don't think it cures anything. You won't cure degenerative arthritis with chiropractic methods or any of these complementary themselves," he says. "If a horse has to see a chiropractor regularly, maybe it should see a veterinarian who knows something about diagnosing back problems. Maybe there's something going on that needs to be addressed in a different fashion. Sometimes people resort to or rely on chiropractic therapy because the last veterinarian who looked at their horse wasn't good at diagnosing back problems," says Mitchell. "It is important to find a veterinarian who is interested in how the biomechanics of the back work and how it relates to limb lameness, and how to separate the horse that has a painful back as a primary problem from a horse that has a painful back because of a lower limb lameness," he says. "In many degenerative arthritis in changes between therapies by For sacroiliac problems, rectal ultrasound exams help assess the lumbosacral joint (above), L4, 5 and 6 lumbar spaces, and the sacroiliac joint. slow down that process, and reduce pain." In an acute injury, traditional treatments with ice packs helps reduce immediate pain and soreness. "Later, when back pain is more chronic, moist heat may be beneficial to give relief—to help the horse warm up and get loose, and work more comfortably. Pulsating magnetic therapy devices may also help with this. Some are stronger than others and may work to reduce pain," he and says. Other physical therapy tools such as magnetic blankets, heat blankets, massage and chiropractic therapy can help with muscle soreness and chronic EXERCISES TO HELP THE BACK Exercises to strengthen the horse's abdominal muscles, getting the neck down and a little flexed, will raise the back instead of hollow it. The rider can ask the horse to bring the hind legs more forward by working over cavaletti poles on the ground and asking him to extend through them. Initially the exercises might be done with groundwork and no rider, or a period of time with a lighter rider, doing various exercises. Pasture turnout or controlled turnout may be useful. "One thing you don't want the horse to do is run around and hurt himself worse. Some horses with mild strains are better off (because of their personalities) to be kept in light work. It's an individual thing you need to discuss with the veterinarian--how the horse will adapt to turnout. Will he behave and not do further injury? If so, the horse has a better chance to get over the problem. "A good regular training schedule is important, with adequate warm-up rather than taking the horse out and thrusting him right into work. The horse needs to warm up, especially if he's had chronic problems," says Mitchell. ligament soreness to loosen the horse up and help him feel better. cases where there's the back and the dorsal spinous processes, we've found that the new drug Tildren (used for navicular disease) is effective for relieving pain associated with bony changes in the back and neck. That drug may be of benefit when there are severe degenerative changes. Tildren can Sometimes getting the horse comfortable enough to exercise and get fit is helpful in getting the impaired back stronger. 28 POLO PLAYERS EDITION

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